What a bizarre, improbable win in LA tonight.
Honestly, I never thought the Jazz would ever beat a Kobe-led team at Staples ever again. D-Will couldn’t do it. Boozer couldn’t do it. Okur hasn’t done it. And it’s been 11 years since AK has done it. So trust me when I say that I am shocked that out of all the times to do it, they do it with THAT roster.
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has gone right for the Jazz post-Sloan/Deron. They’ve gone 5-15, were on an 8-game losing streak (longest since ‘04-05) which have included a recent home loss to the Wizards and a double digit road loss to the Kings, and were without 5 players — about $40 million sitting on the bench.
So out of all the places to pick up a road victory, the Lakers’ home floor, a place where they haven’t won since Jan. 1st, 2006 (17 straight including playoffs) and haven’t won with Kobe in the lineup since Nov. 1st, 2000, would be the last I would expect. Especially not against a team that has dominated the Jazz, have dominated post-break, and are the two-time defending champions.
Nothing should surprise me anymore.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: The Lakers — who most likely will win a third straight championshipship — were off, and it was an ugly, sloppy, lethargic game for both teams. But let’s give credit to the Jazz. They played hard throughout the entire game. Any win, regardless of how ugly it is, is a good win, especially for a young, struggling team in major transition.
Most of all, major props to Gordon Hayward and his coming out party. He’s never been as aggressive and assertive as he was on the offensive end, and did as well as a rookie could on an assignment on Kobe at the defensive end. Every offensive possession down the stretch seemed to involve him in some fashion, whether it was him draining shots, making timely passes or getting dribble penetration. He even had a nice two-man game going with that other promising rookie (Derrick Favors) in the clutch. As the final horn sounded, Hayward finished with a career-high 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block. Most importantly, the kid helped the team sneak away with the most rarest of wins.
With such an unfathomable, mind-boggling season, it’s nice to witness games like these, from young players against championship contenders, that help give hope to a franchise’s future.
About time something good happened to these kids. Now everyone can take something positive out of this game, put this season behind them and look forward to some ping pong ball action. Good for the Jazz.